Mid-Century Modern Furniture by Lane
Oct 27, 2013 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Characterized by its sleek styling and quality construction, Lane Furniture has been an iconic American brand since 1912. Beloved by many a middle class family adorning their homes in the bustling post-war times, modern fans are seeing these pieces on the sets of shows like “Mad Men.” Beautifully designed with sturdy materials, a Lane piece can be the cherry on top of any collection. Learning more about this American classic will have you ready to drive off to the nearest vintage shop and peek around…
The History of Mid-Century Modern Furniture by Lane | In a Nut Shell
As with all good things, Lane Furniture started with a bit of imagination and investment. It all began when John Lane purchased a Virginia manufacturing plant. Their original product offering: boxes. Thankfully his son, 21 year old Ed Lane, took his dad’s encouragement seriously and began to design and build cedar chests. Neither one was sure it would be a success, so their initial products were manufactured under the name “Standard Red Cedar Chest Company.” The brand became a hit and as they say, the rest is history! Lane ventured into the realm of occasional tables in 1951. Growth came again in 1956 with the introduction of case goods & in 1965 accent pieces were created under the Lane name.
Dating & Identifying Lane Furniture
- Known by its impeccable craftsmanship, you will want to look for the following clues:
- Dovetail joints
- Rounded, eased corners
- Metal details
- Tapered legs
- But in order to be authentic, your piece should be marked with the Lane logo. Look for it in drawer sides or on the underside of the piece (sometimes it will be in both locations)
- Your logo may look like the above, or it may just contain the wording “LANE Altavista, Va.” (without the framing), or it may have a forest motif surrounded by a half circle above the word “LANE”
- On the underside of the piece you should also find a serial number. This is very helpful as you can determine the production date by reading the serial number backwards.
- For example, our end table has the serial number: 063270 so our table was made on 07/23/60
- Without a serial number, Lane cannot determine a date of production
- Your piece may also contain an extra digit – this tells you the plant location
- Sometimes you may find an extra bit of information: the style number may be written near the serial number
- For example, our table is considered style 2098
Taking Care of your Lane Furniture
Preventing sun damage
Try to keep your treasured pieces out of the sun as much as possible. However, a great back up plan is to apply wax to the wooden surfaces from time to time. You’ll want to make a good investment in the quality of wax you purchase and be sure to look for a kind that does not contain silicon.
How to repair cigarette burns
A common affliction of vintage furniture we’re afraid, but don’t let this turn you off from buying a great piece. If you find a table you’d like to invest in, determine the seriousness of the burn. If the burn is deep, you will need to consult a furniture repair shop for refinishing (and this means you’ll want to pay less to get it so you can account for this added expense). But if it’s just a light brown spot you can do it yourself by following these easy steps:
- Scrape the burned finish with a single-edge razor blade (you can find these in your local hardware store in the paint prep aisle)
- Remove any loose dirt or wood bits and clean with naptha (typically a lacquer thinner, but it is best to consult your local hardware paint department to make sure you buy the right thing)
- After the surface is clean, you will want to smooth it. With a 500-grit sandpaper and sand wool, carefully smooth the surface. You should be able to easily glide your fingers across the wood.
- If there is a small divet, you can use a rub-in stick to fill the area. Be sure to remove any excess (you can rub over the area with your finger until it blends in with your smoothed surface)
- Next, spray with an aerosol can of clear lacquer.
- Allow it to dry for 8 hours. You may need to finish it off with a paste wax.
Caring for your metal furniture components
Use a cleaning polish (liquid form is preferred). Recommended brands include Johnson’s Pledge or Guardsman. This polish will clean the metal, lend a nice sheen, and protect the metal from future scratches.
Regular waxing will help prevent future damage, but it only does so for a short time. If you have made a spill, time is of the essence – immediately wipe it up! If you have a watermark that has already affected the finish, be sure to do the following: use a 4/0 steel wool along with Johnson’s paste wax to gently rub out the stain; you will want to rub with the wood grain.
Properly use waxes and polishes
For the best results, do not spray directly from the can. Spray onto a soft cotton cloth and then use a flat wiping motion over the wooden surface. Always remember to allow time for the surface to dry completely. If you don’t, you will see “shadows” underneath the items you store on the tabletop. Once you find a wax polish you like, stick with it. Often times switching between wax or oil-based polishes can cause cloudiness or streaking.
Cause A Frockus would like to thank our tremendous resources: Wikipedia, the wonderful people who post their imagery on Wikipedia Commons without restriction, and Lane Furniture’s very helpful website: http://www.lanefurniture.com/aboutus/CompanyHistory.aspx.
For our readers:
Do you own a Lane vintage piece? What do you love about it? Tell us in the comments!